Into the Sunset
Drive north of Santiago, slicing through the Central Valley as the landscape becomes more arid with cacti shrubs and criolla espinos. Here, the Andes grow taller and steeper. Today, explore the narrowest wine-growing valley in Chile and some of the most stunning wine country in terms of scenery. The Aconcagua Valley is characterized by cool breezes entering from the Pacific Ocean, making it a Mecca for growing Syrah.
Visit the valley’s smallest winery, founded by a Swiss lawyer to make limited production wines. Understand the unique growing conditions and soils that allow them to cultivate pristine estate-grown grapes from Cabernet Sauvignon to Carmenere, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Syrah. Sit down to a tasting with the resident sommelier to taste their premium wines.
Snake through the valley floor to arrive at a steep hillside planted with vines. Here, one of Chile’s true icon wines, which beat out European peers in a blind tasting, is born in a Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot blend. Fathom the nuances behind this wine that all begin with arduous work and decision in the vineyard. Taste their wine in private lunch at their criolla quincho with a sweeping view of the green valley floor below. Inspirational.
Drive to the Chilean coast with its azure waters. Arrive in the seaside village of Con Con where affluent Chilean families have vacationed for generations. Check into your charming six-room boutique hotel located in a newly renovated private family mansion built in 1946. Sporting a sweeping view of the Pacific Ocean, it’s the ideal base to relax and soak up the “Chilean Riviera”. Sip your pisco sour from their oceanfront terrace as the sun dips into the western sky. Dinner is on your own at the hotel. (Casadoca)
Today is yours to savor. Take your time with the delicious breakfast in bed. Walk on the beach, or finish the book you have been reading on the sunny terrace. For a late afternoon snack, wander up to the village to sink your teeth into the classic treat in Con Con: crunchy seafood empanadas stuffed with decadent combinations like machas (razor clams) and creamy mantecoso cheese. Snuggle up in front of the roaring fireplace and sip on tea in their tranquil living room. Watch the enchanting Pacific Ocean and hear the soothing sound of the waves crashing on the shore. Inhale deeply. Ahh. (Casadoca)
Put on your walking shoes this morning and connect with the free, funky spirit of Valparaiso, now a UNESCO world heritage site. Join your guide for a historical walk of its hills, plano, and port. Start in acenturies-old market where vendors hawk the freshest daily produce, tangy goat cheese, briny olives, and lots of cheery banter. Pass by busy plazas like Plaza Victoria where children play on carnival rides and eat sugary sweet popcorn. Investigate the main Sotomayor Plaza and bustling Prat Pier with the colorful fishing dinghies. Take one of the city’s emblematic funicular elevators into the hills to Cerro Alegre & Cerro Concepción, peppered with cozy cafés, old-fashioned mom-and-pop shops, chic boutiques, and brightly colored turn-of-the-century buildings.
Turn inland to the Casablanca Valley. White and cool weather varietals like Pinot Noir have thrived in this cooler, foggy valley with delicious natural acidity and potent fruit, mineral, and earthy aromas. Discover a small biodynamic winery project, the vision of a team of Chilean and Frenchmen. Secluded away in the granitic, cactus-covered hillsides of Casablanca, this petit property produces stellar Pinot Noir. Located only a few kilometers from the ocean, the high-density vines benefit from the misty mornings, afternoon sunshine, and soft breezes. Visit with one of the partners and sit down to a tasting of this elegant, handmade wine.
Snake down a winding mountain road through a pine forest. The hairpin turns slowly reveal the rocky cliffs and turquoise waters of Chile’s rugged coastline below. At road’s end, a colorful jumble of clapboard houses clings to the rocks overlooking the wild Pacific. Here, artisan fishing is a way of life. Every morning, fishermen head out to sea in dinghies in search of rockfish, grouper, and shellfish. Lunch is across the sand and past the fishing boats at a simple restaurant overlooking the sea. Run by an extraordinary woman and her two sons, the house specialty is fresh seafood that never hits ice. Savor some of the most classic seafood dishes in Chile prepared in traditional dishes in greda, clay pots: pil pil (shrimp or scallops in a chili-garlic sauce) or machas a la parmesana (razor clams with Parmesan.) Also try the fresh abalones, seared conger eel, paired with a flight of our favorite coastal wines. Return to Santiago in the afternoon.